Tips From a Successful Mature, Part-Time Student

Written by: Jillian Yuill

Making the decision to return to university as a mature student was not an easy one.

I was starting a family, helping my husband run our business, and as much as I wanted to return to university, I didn’t want my finances or family to suffer as a result. The solution was to return as a part-time student. I was nervous that returning part-time would negatively impact my performance as a student, but after 5 years, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Benefits of being a part-time student

Financial: Because I am not attending university full-time, I continue to work full-time. My income far outweighs the cost of part-time tuition, and I continue to gain work experience while I study.


Skill development: By limiting my course load to 1 or 2 credits at a time, I can more easily focus my attention on a given task. I enjoy being able to really delve into the material, and I find I retain the information better, too. I can also spend more time applying advice and guidance from my professors, creating a slow-but-steady skill development path for myself.

Commitments: Enrolling in University part-time hasn’t meant I am less committed than my classmates to obtaining my degree, but I do enjoy being able to balance other commitments, such as work and family obligations. By keeping a careful balance, I can enjoy my time in class away from work and family without feeling guilty or overworked.

While I have enjoyed being a part-time student, it hasn’t always been easy. In the past 5 years, I have learned the following 3 traits have been the cornerstones to my success:

  1. Organized. My days are often scheduled from the moment I wake up to the time I go to bed. I always set aside 15 minutes at night and in the morning to make sure I have everything I need packed and by the door, from my son’s lunch for daycare to my laptop and books for class. Being organized let’s me stay ahead of the game, and allows for…
  1. Flexibility. Being self-employed, my day can change on a moments’ notice based on my clients’ needs. By being organized, it’s easier to be flexible. Cancelled appointment? Get a reading done. Baby home sick? Schedule more time to study the next day. Having a weekly plan is the first step, but being able to adjust on a day-to-day basis helps me maintain my…
  1. Commitment. Like any student, I am constantly tempted with distractions. From a good book to a head cold, there is always a reason to put off studying until later. But I’ve learned the small things add up. By committing to spending 30-60 minutes a day on readings and assignments, I don’t get overwhelmed, I retain information better, and enjoy my classes more.

These are the things that have worked well for me as a part-time student, what works for you?

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